Slice ‘em, Pickle ‘em, Peel ‘em, Eat ‘em

Today’s post is a guest post from Stacy at Desperate Gardener.

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There are so many things you can do with cucumbers – why not grow them!

Cucumbers are quite needy, so be prepared to give them more attention than the other vegetables in your garden. They are heavy feeders; they need a lot of space; and require as much sun as possible.

I live in Seattle on a very small lot in the city, so I grow my cucumbers vertically, taking advantage of their vine-like limbs. I always grow my cucumbers in containers, as I just don’t have room in my garden beds.

Here are some tips on growing cucumbers:

Facts about cucumbers:

  • The first flowers that form on your cucumber plant are male, or staminate. These will drop from the vine, so do not be alarmed when this happens.
  • The next flowers are male and female, which will allow pollination to occur. These are the flowers that will produce fruit.
  • Cucumbers prefer temperature ranges from 65-75. If soil temperatures are below this range, you can try adding black plastic (I use a garbage bag) around the base of the plant, flat on the dirt, to help warm up the soil.

Staminate (male)

Carpellate (female)

How to grow them:

  • At this point in the season, it would be best to buy a cucumber start from a nursery.
  • If growing in a container, make sure your container is at least a foot deep and more than a foot wide. If you put them in the garden, give them a foot of room from your next plant.
  • Apply mulch around the plant to maintain soil temperature and moisture.
  • Once blossoming occurs, you’ll want to add a fertilizer around the base. (Make sure there is phosphorus and nitrogen in it, and follow the directions on the back of the container for “side dressing”.)
  • Cucumbers are mostly water, and therefore require a lot of watering. (In fact, you will need to check daily!) Keep the soil evenly most. The best way to see if you need to add water is to stick your pointer finger as far down in the dirt as it will go. If it’s dry, you need to water! If your plant starts to wilt, you may not be watering it enough.
  • If you are growing your cucumbers vertically, you can use a tomato cage, trellis, or stakes to surround the plant. You may have to encourage the plant up, until some of its vines wrap around your structure.

How to harvest:

  • Do not allow your cucumber to turn yellow (after green) – it becomes bitter at this stage.
  • Cut the vine ¼ inch above the cucumber.
  • Harvest as often as you can, to encourage the plant to produce more.
  • You can harvest cucumbers at any growth point. If pickling, harvest when they are about 2-4 inches long, and 6 or more inches for sliced pickles.

What’s wrong with my plant?

  • Cucumber beetles – small black beetles with yellow stripes or spots. You will see them on your plant. They carry diseases, such as bacterial wilt, that will cause your entire plant to wilt and die.
  • Aphids – See this post for removing aphids.
  • Wilting leaves – Are you watering enough? Is there enough drainage? If the drainage is poor, you should water your plant very slowly.
  • Your plant has stopped blooming – This may be because temperatures are too warm. Make sure to add a lot of mulch around the plant, which will help keep soil temperatures cool.
  • Fruit doesn’t grow more than a few inches – This could be from applying too much fertilizer.

I can’t wait to make my first homemade dill pickles this year! Thanks, Holly, for letting me be a part of your blog. I am honored!


Stacy shares her gardening knowledge on her blog, Desperate Gardener. If you have any question on the proper care of tomato plants, be sure to check out her Tomato Tuesday posts, and posts on numerous other vegetables and plants. She’s also done an impressive job of maximizing the use of her 1,800 square foot Seattle yard.

Thanks, Stacy!

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

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